Category Archives: Vibram Five Fingers

Spartan Race & Warrior Diet

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On Sunday, December 12, 2010, I participated, along with 3 other tough guys, in an event called the Spartan Race.
Rather than do the thing on my own, I thought it’d be more fun to have a team (besides saving a few beer bucks on the registration fee and building team spirit).

I like to work towards a goal, and the mere training goals of strength building or hypertrophy didn’t tickle my adrenal glands enough to generate any kind of training fire inside me. While my personal routine didn’t change in preparation of the event, I wanted to prove that I can be ready any time, any day, and that the conditioning I put myself through would be enough. So, the only variable I changed in my training was my diet, which was great because I embarked on a journey I’ve been hearing about and wanted to experience myself after rave reviews. I’m talking about Ori Hofmekler’s Warrior Diet. My personal results have been fantastic and I am glad to endorse it!

Why The Warrior Diet: Switch on Your Biological Powerhouse For High Energy, Explosive Strength, and a Leaner, Harder Body?
Well, for starters, if my own coaches and RKC comrades have been raving about it, it was endorsement enough for me to give it a shot. Designed for efficiency and maximal energy, it seemed like a no-brainer since my journey as a new father has been tough on the eating and sleeping schedule, 2 vital components of any successful fitness program. I directly asked Pavel Tsatsouline, who’s been on it for years I believe, his take on it. While it wouldn’t necessarily pack mass on me, it would give me plenty of energy and time to both work and take care of the baby when my wife needed time for herself and her work, in between my own clients.
Since any balanced diet revolves around insulin management, I was skeptical because all I was ever taught was to eat frequent meals during the day, which prevents overeating and “survival” metabolic slow-down. See, the Warrior Diet has you go through periods of controlled under-eating during the day alternating with over-eating at night.

I can almost see your furrowed brow on one side, raised brow on the other side. Some of your “hmm…” can be heard through the web too!

WHAT’S THE DEAL?
Hofmekler has you eat only live and raw foods during the day. Coffee or tea is allowed. Drink as much water as you want of course. Squeeze some fresh veggies and fruits and guzzle it down, chew on some raw almonds, cashews or pistachios. Hunger is a sign of vitality. Of course, don’t mistake that for an anorexic program! You eat enough to sustain and actually stimulate insulin release and get you going, burning fat and preserving muscle. You can even ingest a protein shake. But don’t stuff yourself like the domestic nomadic Zoo animal our society turned us into. Think predator, hungry, strong and driven to survive and thrive! When a big cat like a lion or a tiger feasts, they eat till satisfied, unsure of when their next meal comes. That’s you at dinner time. Eat till you’re more thirsty than hungry. Follow the VERY HEALTHY order of salad first, then your veggies, then your protein and if you have room, your carbs. Mix and match textures, colors, tastes (crunchy, soft, sweet, sour, savory, green, red, cold, hot…) and eat away. Then, rest up and sleep. While asleep (night time, circadian rhythm), you only use enough calories to rebuild your muscles from your hunt (I mean, training), while stocking up energy for the day ahead.

Think warrior, Roman soldier: when do you have time during battle to take a break and eat. Your adrenaline’s pumping, you’re hungry for life, food but need to stay razor sharp. How do you think you’d do if you felt like after Thanksgiving dinner while trying to slash away at your enemies? Lethargic is my guess. Save that for sleep!

Hofmekler goes into better detail in his book, and I urge you to give it a shot. I wouldn’t if I didn’t try it myself.

COMPARE TO OTHER DIETS
I have always been a fan of the TNT diet, which taught me that we only burn carbs at high physical intensity training (weights, sprints, martial arts, surfing, tennis…) and burn fat when our heart rate is slow/resting (blogging, sleeping, surfing your desk, watching TV…). The Paleo diet adheres to the same principle, though I am no fan of eating liver, kidneys or any other filtration organs and I do mind eating the better cuts of meat. I am picky, I won’t eat certain parts, like the heart or the brain. Sorry, Paleo dieters, you’re better people than I am, and I see no real reason to do this, other than maybe to generate less waste from the animal that “donated” its life.
The Zone diet doesn’t work, because not everyone’s needs are the same. Athletes vs couch potatoes, pregnant vs non-pregnant women, marathon runners vs shot putters. You can’t say we all need 30% fat, 30% protein, 40% carbs. And ultimately, the body reach homeostasis, so why not try something new, that makes sense and is on par with your goals? It even works if you’re not a lifter, and just want a new program. Read it, read Ori’s points and analysis.

WHAT IT DID FOR ME
I started 10 days before my 5K obstacle course in the Malibu mountains, the infamous Spartan Race. By body fat percentage was at 12.5% on a Saturday. On Tuesday, I had dropped 3% body fat at my annual physical exam. My lifts, my energy and my mood have been better. On the day of the race, after completing uphill runs, scaling steep 10′ walls, mud crawls, cold water swim, cargo nets and gladiators with big foam sticks at the finish line, I felt exhilarated, elated and I never got sore nor did I feel more fatigued than after a “medium” intensity workout!

To me, that was validation enough in my eating with the Warrior Diet, as well as my training with kettlebells, powerlifts and natural movement patterns, staples of my (and your) physical fitness development!
(I did run wearing my Vibram Five-Fingers and was glad I did. The grip and agility it gave me, especially after crawling through wet, muddy areas, was a nice welcome compared to wearing soggy sneakers!)

Run for joy!

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Recently, I have had quite a few clients ask me to teach them how to run properly following the Pose Method of Running I learned in London a couple of years ago from Lee Saxby, one of the highest level Pose coaches worldwide.

POSE AND FOOTWEAR
Conversations about Dr Romanov’s Pose Method of Running usually start when people see me wear my Vibram Five-Fingers shoes, which are also RKC “Party” approved for kettlebell training. Comfy, barefoot feeling and their varied colors can go from cool looking to clown looking.

While I have successfully improved my clients’ running styles and form, alleviating knee pain and re-training the body to move in natural ways that carryover to just about everything in real life, I have to admit I haven’t made much time for a nice run in about 6 months! Sad… Keep the following in mind: my wife and I had a 3-month old baby, and before that we were readying ourselves for his arrival. Maintaining my physical condition doesn’t require me running. As a matter of fact, I loathe running for fitness. Don’t run to get fit, run cuz you like it. Run for joy, for the fun of it! Southern California, where I reside has beautiful beaches and nice weather year round, as well as great trails minutes away in any direction.

Back to my running…

INSPIRED BY A BOOK
I mentioned in a recent newsletter (or was it a blog post? I lose track when I lose sleep. Thanks, baby Fletcher!) that I was reading Chris McDougall’s Born To Run. The book not only inspired me to go running again (and make time for it), it also educated me on a few things which I will share over time (you can read the book, just click on the banner, or you can wait for my findings…), such as Iskiate and chia seeds (coincidentally, a good friend of mine introduced me to them almost simultaneously as I was engrossed in the book).

During a marathon of a day that started with my first client at 6:45AM, with 7 clients over 7 1/2 hours, then 105 minutes to squeeze in a meal, workout and shower before tackling on 2 more clients, I missed my family, not seeing them for 12 hours by the time I’d get home. To relieve some of my stress (my workout that day felt more like part of my job duties, though I still enjoyed it), I decided to cool off with a run from the gym, breaking in my latest pair of Vibram Five-Fingers (the awesome grey/black camo ones!)
Man did it feel great! I had completed a long set of 32kg kettelebell snatches, working a revolving minute for 20 minutes, after some body weight circuits that included 300 push-ups, jumping squats and jumping lunges, hip bridges, inverted rows and prone shoulder presses. I was running on fumes and Chia Fresca, yet had enough steam to go “grease the groove” with a Pose run. It probably looked like a cheesy SoCal moment, with a goofy surfer looking guy, blond hair flowing in the wind, with an accoutrement that resembled a homeless runner who’d stepped in a bucket of paint (the shoes), but I felt freedom. Freedom from responsibilities, physical performance goals. I was in the moment.
Mind you, I am not saying I was happy to be away from my family. Logistics prevented a sensible visit home during the day. As I always tell my clients, “when you’re training with me, you’re training with me. If there is something important that needs your attention and you CAN make a difference, go do it. If not, BE here :)”
So, I “be” in the running moment, charging up on sun-drenched Vitamin D, balancing out my IGF-1 levels.

If you don’t run outdoors, you’re missing out. Forget the data your treadmill provides you. Who cares how many calories you burned, how far you ran and for how long or what your heart rate was. You don’t need a machine to tell you how you feel.

Just go. Go now!

QUICK RUNNING TIPS
1) Wear as flat a shoe as possible, or with a low heel if you must have cushioning. The high-heeled running shoes promote bad form by forcing a heel strike which you do not feel, but it does jar your knees and hips. I’ve run in my Sanuk sandals, which feel like slippers but offer no support of arch or other pronation/supination fancy stuff. Bare essentials force good form.
2) Stride length has nothing to do with speed. It’s the cadence, i.e. the tempo at which you pull your feet off the ground. Think cartoon characters, whose legs are a blur when running super fast. A longer stride actually slows you down, forcing you to use your quads to propel yourself forward and again, impact is felt on the knees. Keep your stride the same whether you sprint or jog. Notice I also said PULL your feet off the ground. There is no “push” in running. Let gravity do that for you, like a baby taking his first steps falling forward and using gravity and their forward lean as momentum.
3) Don’t try too hard right away. Better to run in short segments (30-100 meters/yards) and reset than to mindlessly log miles. Running is not as innate as you think and is still a skill you need to (re)learn.
4) Carry water with you, stay hydrated to avoid cramping. Best way to carry your bottle: under your armpit. Promotes a better upright posture as well as less arm flailing. And more comfortable than a carrier belt (hate how it slaps my butt or bounces on the side of my hip).

If you want to improve your form, email me your interest in a workshop and we can all go experience the freedom of running as a group. Connect with some new people, make some like-minded friends and learn something in the process!